The Alternative 2011 Oscar Nomination List

If you haven’t already seen them – perhaps by avoiding all contact with any outraged Christopher Nolan fans – you can read yesterday’s actual Oscar nominations here. What this list does is suggest alternative selections for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress and the like, paying dues to the films that weren’t given an Academy nod (or perhaps it’s just what the Oscars look like in my head).

I’ve selected alternative choices for twenty of the awards categories announced by the Academy – the only ones I’ve missed out are Short Film (Aninmated), Short Film (Live Action), Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Why? Because my choices either overlapped with films I’d picked for other categories, or I couldn’t think of selections for some of them. No slur on short animated films, but I don’t really watch all that many of them. Um… does Family Guy count?

Here are my alternative nominations. Please do leave yours below that.


What + Why: Directed by Roman Polanski, The Ghost features three great turns: Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams and Pierce Brosnan, the latter doing all he can not to drop the five letter B word. Their contributions align to make a truly thrilling thriller.


What + Why: Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe for Barney’s Version last month, yet recieved no Oscar nod in the announcment yesterday. The film is broody, mysterious and a perfect realization of Mordecai Richler’s novel – and the ever brilliant Giamatti is the best thing about it.


What + Why: Facebook drama The Social Network got more than it’s fair share of shouts yesterday, but it’s strange Andrew Garfield received no specific praise. Eisenberg as Zuckerberg did, but it’s Garfield’s calm Eduardo Saverin that allows the films lead the space and bedrock to shine.


What + Why: Lesley Manville’s poignant performance as wineguzzing Mary in Another Year realized one of Mike Leigh’s most complex characters yet. High praise if you consider the director’s nuance for character.


What + Why: Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass featured prepubescent assassin Hit Girl, the best cinematic creation of all 2010. She’s played by Chloe Moretz, a cussing shoe-in for an alternative nod. It’s worth noting that she gave Let Me In a reason to exist too.


What + Why: It was unlikely that Bill Plympton’s Idiots and Angels would make the jump from Oscar longlist to shortlist – it is after all a silent movie about a grumpy man shouting in a bar. That’s not to say it’s not surreal, scribbly genius though.


What + Why: Say what you want about Scott Pilgrim Saves The World (and I’m going with amazing), Edgar Wright’s fannish interpretation of Brian Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels was an orgy of 80’s coin-ops, retro kung-fu and imagination.


What + Why: Most films leave me thinking, “woe”. Some, “woah”. But Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void left me thinking, “how did he do that?” The film takes the camera to places it never gets to go. The results are mesmerizing.


What + Why: There are many categories in which Samuel Maoz’s claustrophobic Beruit war drama Lebanon could sit, but it’s the clothes his cast wear – grubby and torn canvasses for their fear – that help the film truly realise the feel of the era.


What + Why: Xavier Beauvois’ work on Of Gods and Men has a subtle touch, but his portrayal of seven Trappist monks stumbling towards death is at once gentle, beautiful and alarming. Never have mere shadows told so many stories.


What + Why: Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson’s illuminating Mugabe and the White African documents the lives of a white family who run a farm in Zimbabwe, as they legally challenge the land redistribution programme of 2000 – opposing President Mugabe himself.


What + Why: Another longlisted name lost cutting the shortlist. Living for 32 is the story of Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech campus shooting massacre of 2007. In it, 32 people died and 17 were injured; Goddard’s story reveals terror fiction rarely does.


What + Why: Greek drama Dogtooth tells a complex story, yet the films spine of iron clad narrative makes Yorgos Lanthimos’ film never unfathomable. Its flow makes sense when it could easily not – and that’s why it gets the nod here.


What + Why: Recalling the last days of the titular character, Thai film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a truly original piece of work. How original? Well, it does feature someone having sex with a catfish…


What + Why: Nicolas Winding Refn’s Vallhalla Rising told the story of a one-eyed mute psychopathic Viking joining a party of Christian Crusaders in search for the Holy Land. It’s completely batshit, and from the splattered blood to the daubed mud, everything looked uber gnarly.


What + Why: Given Ian Dury biopic Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll is soundtracked by old Blockhead songs, this nod is a bit of a swizz. Yet in having lead Andy Serkis sing them all, it gave old songs new energy – and I had to get Serkis as Dury in here somewhere.


What + Why: Another cheat of sorts: Mattie Ross’ theme in True Grit is based on the 1887 hymn ‘Leaning On The Everlasting Arms’. The appropriation of the hymn is certainly original – around a quarter of the score is based on it, in varying forms.


What + Why: Gareth Edwards’ frugally funded sci-fi film Monsters is less about the aliens as it is the human stories woven around them. But when the aliens do appear – which are sort of like sexy giant squid – you’d be hard pushed to find a more exciting use of CGI within films shot on ten times the budget.


What + Why: Ben Affleck’s The Town was one of my favourite movies of 2010 – impressive given his adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s Boston based crime novel Prince of Thieves was only his second extended stay behind the camera. I have to say, I like him much more there out there than in front.


What + Why: I’m no great fan of the buddy cop genre, but The Other Guys was a surprisingly fun addition to it. It’s funny and the bits that aren’t move fast. I can’t help thinking that Chris Henchy’s script is one Kevin Smith would have killed to work Cop Out around.